Interviewing Seniors About Writing a Thesis and Advice

by Tae-Hee Kim

Hi juniors, sophomores, freshmen, and to-be high schoolers! As we look up to the current seniors, we can appreciate the wisdom and mentorship they bring to HB. Besides applying to colleges and surviving “seniors”, if you’re anything like me, you might wonder how in the world they’re able to balance a busy workload AND write a thesis. Even wondering about becoming a senior and the thesis writing process may make you want to pull your hair out!

But don’t fret! To address this potential concern, here is what a few seniors have had to say about this topic and their advice on writing a senior thesis:

Madeline Howarth:

What senior capstone class are you currently in?

I’m in Econ honors.
How happy are you to be writing a thesis?

Um, you know, it depends on the day. Some days I’m thinking about, okay, well this is probably a good experience to have for college, and some days I’m like, well, this is pretty difficult, this is a lot of writing and yeah, this has been a lot of research, but I picked a topic that I think is really interesting, so it’s been cool to learn about it but at the same time it’s not exactly enjoyable some nights when you’re having to get a lot of it done.
How difficult or time consuming is writing a thesis?

I would say it’s a lot of time. If you’ve spread it out well, like if you’ve been working on it the whole year, you’re pretty much good to go. I stupidly have procrastinated on mine, so what means is that I have to spend a lot of time on it now as opposed to having spread it out over the whole year. So, it’s definitely a lot, but it’s a lot more manageable if you spread it out.
What have you found the most challenging part of writing your thesis? And what has been the most rewarding?

I would say the most challenging part is just figuring out what point you’re trying to make, because in a paper that long, sometimes you lose sight of what you’re actually trying to prove and you’re just spewing out information. The most rewarding part has definitely been just seeing the information I know build up and learning about it and gaining a better understanding of the topic than pretty much anyone else that I know, so it’s kinda cool to have that much knowledge on one topic, but it’s definitely also a lot of information.
And finally, is there any advice, if at all, that you’d like to give to future HB seniors and potential thesis writers?

Yeah, don’t procrastinate. Not a good idea. It makes it not fun.
Oriana Cruz:

What senior capstone class are you currently in?

Econ.
How happy are you to be writing a thesis?

I mean, I think it’s a great experience and is something that I will really benefit from in the future, especially because in college we’re going to have to write a lot more papers so the fact is that we’re writing a twenty or more paged paper and I think that that is so important. It is a lot of work, but I think I’ll be really happy I did it in the end.
How difficult or time consuming is writing a thesis?

It’s not really that it’s time-consuming, because I think KP and Ms. Moderai do a really good job of breaking it apart—we’ve been working on it since the beginning of the school year practically. We had to start brainstorming our topics in August and we did our outline by November, so we just had most of the work done during the school year—now it’s just typing it all out, which isn’t too bad.
What have you found the most challenging part of writing your thesis? And what has been the most rewarding?

I think the most challenging part is finding the research because you have to find a lot of really reliable sources. I chose a topic that’s really recent, it’s about the Columbian peace negotiations and the effects it could have on the economy. A lot of it isn’t something you can really quantify yet because the effects are being seen right now, but obviously, they don’t know up to how much the effects will occur. So yea, finding resources and that kind of stuff is kinda challenging, but overall it’s been great, I mean, we have a lot of resources that are useful.
And finally, is there any advice, if at all, that you’d like to give to future HB seniors and potential thesis writers?

I think that just making sure to follow the deadlines—break it apart, don’t be too overwhelmed, but just to do the work little by little, maybe just doing a couple of hours each weekend—is really the best advice I could give.
Leah Marks:

What senior capstone class are you currently in?

World Lit.
How happy are you to be writing a thesis?

I think it’s bittersweet. I think it’s a valuable experience and I think that I’ve learned a lot from it, but it takes up a lot of my time.
How difficult or time consuming is writing a thesis?

I think that if you plan it out well, then it’s very manageable. I mean personally I procrastinated a lot because I was having a hard time coming up with a topic, but I think if you plan your time well throughout the school year then it should be fine.  
What have you found the most challenging part of writing your thesis? And what has been the most rewarding?

I think finding a topic was the hardest part for me, just because I’ve never written anything of that magnitude, so it was hard to find something that you could write a lot about and know you can write meaningful things. And probably the most rewarding thing has just been learning a lot through the process.
And finally, is there any advice, if at all, that you’d like to give to future HB seniors and potential thesis writers?

Find a topic that you’re really interested and passionate about, because otherwise it’s not going to be a fun process. Also start as early as you can, because work builds up a lot at the end of senior year and that’s very stressful.
Lina Ghosh:

What senior capstone class are you currently in?

International Relations, and I took Gov last year.
How happy are you to be writing a thesis?

Right now? On a scale from 0 to 10, a solid 7 (this figure might be a little biased as I have been staring at my less than acceptable conclusion chapter for the past few hours). In all honesty, I fluctuate between a 5 and an 8.5 when I’m on a roll.  
How difficult or time consuming is writing a thesis?

If you work consistently, it’s a reasonable amount of work. If you’re a procrastinator, it’s more time-consuming than you think, so I’d suggest taking the former approach (I should probably take my own advice). Think of the entire thesis as five short papers, which isn’t too much in the grand scheme of things.
What have you found the most challenging part of writing your thesis? And what has been the most rewarding?

*Nervous laughter* Senioritis? All I’ll say is that I have the capacity to be a lot more productive than I am right now, but here’s the better answer: I LOVE my topic, but the research process has been quite difficult. I’m writing about music as a mode of diplomacy during times of crisis. Sounds cool, right? Two problems: 1) literature on the subject is sparse. I even ordered a book from another state because it wasn’t available in the Ohio library system 2) historically, music hasn’t really played a huge role in bringing about cease-fires or putting a stop to major human rights violations (though it has definitely helped in bridging cultural ties and bringing together diverse communities). If it was that remedial, people would have been holding hands and singing Kumbaya instead of fleeing war-torn regions or oppressive regimes that strip them of their rights and identities. I guess it’s easy to get carried away with your own idealistic vision of what your thesis is going to be, so I’d say that the most challenging part it is relinquishing control over your expectations.
And finally, is there any advice, if at all, that you’d like to give to future HB seniors and potential thesis writers?

Be open to surprises, changes, and revelations—discovering something on your own that you hadn’t known before is the most rewarding part of this process. Keep in mind that we’re really lucky to have this opportunity at HB, so make sure to pick a topic you’re interested in and have fun with it!